Police watchdog reveals the number of Yorkshire officers currently under investigation and responds to criticism from county's federations
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has revealed the number of officers across Yorkshire who are currently under investigation and responded to claims from the county's police federations that it is "unfit for purpose".
West Yorkshire Police Federation Vice Chairman Craig Grandison yesterday criticised the IOPC for the time it takes to conclude police officer probes.
Mr Grandison said while police officers have no issue with being held accountable for their actions, all too often the federation is seeing the "devastating effects elongated investigations" are having on innocent officers' lives.His comments were echoed by South Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman Steve Kent.
Responding to the claims, an IOPC spokesman said: "The IOPC has made significant achievements in improving the timeliness of investigations and many of the delays which can occur are outside of our control. It is disappointing and misleading that the Police Federation has chosen not to reflect this in the information they have provided.
"Since becoming the IOPC, we’ve completed more than 1,350 investigations and 90 per cent are now completed within 12 months.
"In addition to taking on around 700 new investigations of police conduct each year and improving the timeliness of those, of the 538 investigations inherited from the Independent Police Complaints Commission, only three investigations remain and are near to completion."
The IOPC said the North East regional office, which covers the four Yorkshire forces, currently has three active independent investigations that have exceeded 12 months.
In West Yorkshire, there are currently 15 active investigations being independently investigated by the IOPC, 14 of which were referred between May 2020 and January 2021.
The IOPC said of the 13 investigations completed between April 2020 and January 2021, 92 per cent were completed within 12 months. There are a further 18 cases where the IOPC have completed their investigation, but further matters are awaited such as a coroner's inquest, criminal cases prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), or misconduct proceedings overseen by an independent disciplinary panel.
The police watchdog has also revealed it is involved with five active investigations in South Yorkshire, all of which were referred between March and November 2020.
There have been seven investigations completed between April 2020 and January 2021, 75 per cent of which have been concluded within 12 months.
Of the two cases not concluded within 12 months, one had been delayed due to a parallel criminal case and a second due its complexity.
There are a further seven cases where the IOPC have completed their investigation, but further matters are awaited such as a coroner’s inquest, criminal cases prosecuted by CPS or misconduct proceedings overseen by an independent disciplinary panel.
As part of the Police Federation of England and Wales’s (PFEW) #TimeLimits campaign, the Federation will be giving evidence to Parliament on Wednesday surrounding the impact of lengthy disciplinary investigations on officers, their families and their colleagues.
The campaign has pushed for investigations into police officers to be capped at 12 months.
The IOPC spokesman said: "A small number of the 700 investigations we start each year take longer than 12 months. These are complex investigations, often looking at historical allegations and can be delayed by concurrent inquests or criminal proceedings, legal challenges and other complications which can delay an investigation.
"Everyone in the police complaints system has a responsibility to work together to improve timeliness – including police forces, the Federation, the CPS and other parties.
"We recognise the impact of lengthy investigations on police officers, complainants and families and that is why we are committed to working across the complaints and discipline system to improve the timeliness of our investigation as well as associated processes determined by others.
"Our investigations also highlight learning and recommendations which help drive improvements to policing practice. This can be found in our Impact Report."